Today I want to highlight Dr. Anna Blakney, vaccine expert and Assistant Professor in the Michael Smith Laboratories and School of Biomedical Engineering at the University of British Columbia. I came across Dr. Blakney in the way we find most great scientists today… TikTok. For the past 8 months, Dr. Blakney has been posting fun, informative videos about COVID-19 to her 218k social media followers. Through popular TikTok dances, sounds, and trends, she has been able to reach a new audience and debunk myths about the pandemic and vaccines. Her short Q&A style videos and dances with her colleagues have skyrocketed her visibility and given her a platform to educate people around the world through her accessible (and easy to understand) content.
If you take a look at her page (@anna.blakney), you’ll find countless videos of Dr. Blakney in the lab — giving users a first hand look into what is happening behind the scenes. At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, she joined the team at Imperial College London to share her research and expertise on self-amplifying RNA vaccines — technology that encourages RNA to replicate itself in cells. This technology closely resembles that being used in the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines but instead allows patients to receive lower doses of RNA which helps to keep the vaccine costs low.
As a member of Team Halo, a global network of scientists utilizing social media to make vaccine information accessible, Dr. Blakney is not alone in her efforts. Together, Team Halo’s content has been viewed well over 95 million times on social media and has amplified the voices of experts from all over the world.
I’m inspired by Dr. Blakney’s research and also her immense creativity. Her use of social media to share her knowledge to her large (and growing) audience is a great example of what’s possible.